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Sensible Shoes is taking the night off with family obligations.  Hope all of y'all are enjoying the holiday season and making New year's resolutions to do lots of writing in 2013.

One theory of fiction is that it’s about the moment of change.  Your character starts out at Point A (his or her normal life, whatever that might be).  Somewhere around 90% of the way through the story, we reach Point B:  the climax, the tipping point after which things will Never Be the Same.  The climax should seem impossible when we’re at Point A, but by Point B, it’s become inevitable.  The middle part of the story is how we get from here to there.

Frequently this involves your character doing something he or she would “never” do.  This may mean a character breaking his or her own moral code:  with the Internet Killer about to walk free on a technicality, Detective Tim Bayliss resorts to murder.  At the other end of the scale, Harry Potter discovers a heroism he didn’t know he possessed, and agrees to sacrifice himself to stop Voldemort.  Or the change may be something on a smaller scale:  Elizabeth Bennett gives Mr. Darcy a second chance after rejecting him.

Such changes only work if they don’t seem contrived.  Bayliss had done everything within his power to bring the Internet Killer to justice – and then, on an unrelated case, he had his self-image shaken when he had to kill someone in self-defense.  Harry, of course, took progressively bigger risks as Voldemort tried to destroy everything he loved.  The character we met at Point A could not have made those decisions, but by the time we reach Point B, he or she is no longer the same person.

Exercise:

Write a scene where your character is faced with having to do something that he or she would “never” do.  Use your own story, or one of these scenarios:

Belinda learns that her rival Adelaide is plotting to marry Belinda’s beloved Lord Postlethwaite-Praxleigh (pronounced Puppy) in order to get her hands on his jeweled sash.

A callow youth gets the chance to obtain the Jewel of Togwogmagog and save the kingdom – but at a terrible cost to his or her Stout Companion.

Detective Scotty Blaine is warned of the consequences if he doesn’t do a favor for the local mob boss.

Goodwife Thankful Goodheart is feeding her hens and minding her own business when she sees that awful Agnes Addlepate giving her the evil eye.

A stranger has come to the Wiltchester Dragon Farm, wanting to buy a baby dragon, but ace dragon breeder Jocasta Entwhistle doesn’t trust him one bit.

Private investigator Celia Spunk realizes that her client is really the Chainsmoke Killer.

International superspy James Buns has been captured by an eccentric megalomaniac, who plans to use an elaborate invention to kill the hero and his unfortunately-named girlfriend.

Write On! will be a regular weekly diary (Thurs 8 pm ET) until it isn't.
Before signing a contract with any agent or publisher, please be sure to check them out on Preditors and Editors, Absolute Write and/or Writer Beware.
Poll

In 2013, I plan to write:

33%10 votes
6%2 votes
6%2 votes
3%1 votes
6%2 votes
0%0 votes
23%7 votes
6%2 votes
3%1 votes
0%0 votes
3%1 votes
6%2 votes

| 30 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Loose change for tips (22+ / 0-)
    James Buns tugged at the handcuffs, but they were solid titanium.  His arch-enemy, Meggo LaManiac, had left James and his girlfriend Sally Bate chained to a giant wrecking ball that would soon crash into the secret bunker that could control the world.

    James mentally ran through the list of gadgets that Z had given him.  There was a pen that could write someone's thoughts on their head (only useful on bald opponents), an exploding gun (really a bad idea), and a hidden musical soundtrack that was better than Viagra.

    From the opposite side of the wrecking ball, he heard Sally's voice.  "James, I see a way out of this.  But you're going to have to trust me and let me take care of everything.  Also, you're going to have to get rid of that goddam musical soundtrack - I'd really rather just cuddle.  All right?"

    "All right," he said.

    I shall die, but that is all that I shall do for Death; I am not on his payroll. - Edna St. Vincent Millay

    by Tara the Antisocial Social Worker on Wed Dec 26, 2012 at 09:11:01 PM PST

  •  Wait. You're cracking me up. (12+ / 0-)

    James Buns has an unfortunately named girlfriend?

    If I can stop laughing, I can try to write the scene.

  •  Alternate take (11+ / 0-)

    With the Seven Solicitresses arrayed before the throne of King Yerwizeness, Callie Yuth strode in, brandishing a law book.  Stout Guinness followed, scrambling to keep up.

    "I found the loophole!  It says right here that the Jewel of Togwogmagog may be claimed in order to save the kingdom!"

    Amica Briefe, the First Solicitress, took the proffered book and skimmed the page.  "This only applies when a callow youth receives the kiss of true love in the throne room."

    "Awesome!" Stout said, reaching for Callie.

    "I'm sorry, Stout."  This wasn't the way she'd planned to break it to him, not in a room full of Solicitresses with her father looking on.  

    "Sorry?"

    "You're a wonderful guy - kind and funny and loyal, and I know how much you care about me.  But you're not my true love."  She turned and met the dark eyes that had been following her like a frivolous lawsuit from the start of the quest.  

    "My true love is Prudencia Juris."

    Prudencia wept like a defendant who'd just heard the "not guilty" verdict read.

    I shall die, but that is all that I shall do for Death; I am not on his payroll. - Edna St. Vincent Millay

    by Tara the Antisocial Social Worker on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 05:09:04 PM PST

  •  I moved all my stuff. (8+ / 0-)

    Folders, back-ups... It is GOOD to back things up. However it's confusing if first you move things to new, "more logical" locations.

    Thanks for pinch-hitting, Tara. I am working on a something to submit for grading.

    However, the poll... I want to write several things of different types. Is that okay? ;-)

  •  Okay, here is a scene: (9+ / 0-)
    “Tell me again what you have in mind,” Paula said.

    “My brother needs a place to live. You need someone to share expenses. I’ll cut your rent by $400 a month.” Kyle watched her face as she processed the dollars. “Look, I know you can’t make rent now. You still owe me for this month and we’re three weeks in.”

    “Yeah,” She breathed deeply again, looking past him. “Why can’t he live with you?”

    “It would be okay with me, but my wife doesn’t go for it.” Now he was the one to avoid her eyes.

    She noticed. “Why not?”

    “He has a drug conviction. Marijuana possession. Personal use, but it’s still a felony.”

    She considered that, remembering her college days before meeting Rob. “Any other trouble?”

    Kyle shook his head.

    “Will he have a job?”  He nodded. “I need to meet him. I have two kids to protect, you know. But if I say ‘yes,’ you have to cut my rent by $500 a month, including this month.”

    He started to protest but she cut him off. “How much will it cost to evict us? How much rent will you get then? Not a penny, I’ll guarantee it.”

  •  someday I'm going to try my hand (10+ / 0-)

    at writing an anti-romance novel.  I'm pretty sure I've got the formula down.

    don't know if that day will be in 2013, however.  

    Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

    by a gilas girl on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 05:38:02 PM PST

  •  "My lord," Belinda murmured. (10+ / 0-)

    He was fiddling with the gasogene and didn't look up right away.  Belinda could hear Adelaide running towards the smoking room.  She closed the door and locked it.  With the absence of the candles in the hallway, the room loomed darkly purple.  It made her task easier.  She took a deep breath, her hands busy with hooks and eyes.

    "My lo-- Puppy!"

    Now he did look up.  "Wha--!?!?"

    "Yes, my lord." She stepped out of the crinoline, silk, cotton, whalebone, and lace with one simple movement.  "This one time only -- the full Monty."

  •  Military fiction take. (10+ / 0-)

    We had been ordered.  Hell we'd been commanded.

    It was the same spiel as always.  Only this time...

    This time.

    My god, what were they asking me to do?  What were they asking me to contemplate?  Did the Colonel actually believe that somehow, walking right into an ambush would somehow win hearts and minds?

    Those people had plans.  Dark, dangerous plans that involved many of my men... men I cared about... god...

    I acknowledged the order, and then I tried to figure out how the HELL I was going to get us all out of it alive.

    I don't blame Christians. I blame Stupid. Which sadly is a much more popular religion these days.

    by detroitmechworks on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 05:47:47 PM PST

  •  I think there's a book or two in here somewhere (5+ / 0-)

    "Oh please sir," said Oliver, "do not make me steal."

    "Not make you steal!" said Sykes. "Perhaps you'd like a better look at Polly, when she's gettin' ready for bed?"

    "Oh, sir, do you think I could?" cried Oliver.

    "Think it! Why, boy, I know it.  Consider it done."

    "Thank you, sir.  Coins or silverware?"

                                              *

    "Well," I says to myself, looking at the letter to Miss Watson, "after all, he's just a nigger--" and I put the letter in the mailbox.

    I have told this story many times, especially in my first campaign for the Missouri State Senate.  

                                                *

    That to which Vronsky's entire reason for being had lately tended had at last been accomplished.  It hadn't been that great and they both decided it wasn't worth it, the end.

  •  Novel in Progress (9+ / 0-)

    Some know, but I've been working with an editor on what is basically just a short selection of stories.   A few weeks ago, I spliced together pieces from multiple chapters to make a more political point.

    ( http://www.dailykos.com/... )

    Which created a lot of response, and after talking to my editor about it I decided to try and change how I was writing.  

    I keep changing up my drafts because it's mostly a pretty Lake Wobegon meets Christopher Moore type writing, but they've been OK with some of the early drafts they've had.

    I'm still pretty uncomfortable because the moments that I think work well seem to work well because of either sex or violence, and the more cute home style stories sometimes just aren't as polished yet as I want them to be.

    I took the first few pages out of a chapter tonight, retyped and made a few changes, just to try it out.  I've got until late July to get this wrapped up, though I'm going to try hard to do it long before then.

    The part I put up today is one that for me is "almost" right.  It falls into that not quite polished bit.  I'm still roughing the edges because there are parts of it that match the tone I really want, and some of it where I think the wording is clunky and I keep going back and editing.

    http://www.dailykos.com/...

    Still a work in progress.  I'm going to try and put up pieces of chapters every 3 weeks so I don't let it monopolize my normal political thoughts but a sounding board is definitely appreciated.

    Gandhi's Seven Sins: Wealth without work; Pleasure without conscience; Knowledge without character; Commerce without morality; Science without humanity; Worship without sacrifice; Politics without principle

    by Chris Reeves on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 06:07:10 PM PST

  •  One thing that heartened me (10+ / 0-)

    in the wake of the mass availability of the internet--and which concerns me about the mass availability of Twitter--is the medium's encouragement of every-day people in learning to write, to craft prose. People who never thought of themselves as writers, are taking to this as a medium of communication.

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 06:29:54 PM PST

  •  Well that got me hunting through (7+ / 0-)

    a manuscript. Knew there was a pivotal scene.
    Along the way . . . realized there's things to fix. . .
    Stories just never seem done to authors, do they?

    (every thing in the scene is in a shared/collective awareness "mind-space" called Sanctuary, not a physical reality.)


        "Lessons, youngling," she looked at him coldly, "You can die in Sanctuary. The mind can be so fragile. And, there can be only one Obsidian Spear. One leader."
        Obsidian parried her first strike, a swipe at him.
        "Why a fight?" he asked, almost pleading, "Must it all come to bloodshed?"
        "Coward! What will you do tomorrow- sing them to death?"
        "Rivers will run red. Blood will drown Yault. Why add to it?"
        "I want every remnant of Yault scoured from the universe. Cleanse them and the Emalts will follow. Freedom for all!"
        "Lies!" Bright stepped up, pausing the battle to chide Obspire, "It is because there can be only one spear to follow. The former must break to let the new one lead."
        "Little girl-" Obspire huffed up indignantly, her spear shifting, only to have Obsidian take a fierce, wild swing at her.
        "Leave Bright alone!" Obsidian's eyes glowed with fire, startling many nearby.
        "Obsidian-" Bright's voice shook slightly, "It must be fought. I stand with you, but it must be your fight."
        Obsidian nodded, the fire in his eyes subsiding to embers. Through the spear, he could feel her, her will and love. Not just Bright, but Chance, Right, Left, Song and several more who were solidly supportive of him. It helped, briefly. Obspire had a great deal more experience fighting than he did. She also understood Sanctuary better, flitting here and there at will. More than once, the haft of her spear slammed into him.
        "You toy with me," Obsidian finally hissed at her.
        "It is a vain hope you learn something," she replied, "Hopeless."
        With a step and a swing, she connected with his head. Obsidian sank to his knees as pain reverberated through his skull. A slick, hot trickle of blood traced down his face. A thin fan of obsidian rock appeared before him, ghost-like trailing blood down its face while a ruby eye blinked. The haft of Obspire's spear swung through it, catching Obsidian in the shoulder.
        He leaned heavily on his spear, preventing a face plant and looking up to the horizon. The storm clouds nearly covered the sky, growling with wind and fury.
        "One is dust, We are the dune-" Obsidian gripped tightly to his spear, feeling presence of everyone supporting him, "I am Sand's tool."
        He closed his eyes, opening himself to simply being the Spear. Being what was needed for Sand. Letting the will of all present flow through the Spear, directing him. Obspire's swing connected to a body that simply chimed a loud tone, an echo of voices and will.
        "Yes! This!" she shouted in triumph. Point first, she drove her spear at Obsidian's chest. Her spear struck with a second, louder ring and shattered. The shatter flowed up the shaft, shattering her hands, her arms, her entire body falling to dust with a cry of relief.
        "Obsidian!" Bright grabbed at his shoulders, hugging him with relief. Her eyes opened wide as she realized he was still channeling formal Sanctuary. Doubt and indecision had shattered as well. Every Sandian laid their mind to Obsidian Spear like thousands of hands gripping the same weapon. Thousands of hands building a spear and a man.

    I am much too liberal to be a Democrat.

    by WiseFerret on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 06:53:07 PM PST

  •  mine (7+ / 0-)
    How long can Hitch hold up the roof?
    Not long enough.
    Is there no other way?
    Just do it and fast.

    Jasper raced toward the silver stand where the jewel lay.

    The floor buckled and the walls cracked.  The screeching of the strained pillars sang through the room.  The window melted.

    Hitch's back was bowing as Jasper dashed through the final flaming circle and grabbed the glowing eye.

    It seemed like hours as he raced back for the gate and slid under the lowering portcullis.

    "Hitch!  Come!"  There was a bellow of released stress.

    Dust blinded Jasper as the remaining pillars collapsed and the roof came down behind him.   Jasper bowed his head over the jewel.  "Oh, Hitch, my friend."

    "Move!" said a voice filled with dust.  Big hands pulled Jasper to his feet.  "Whole mountain be coming down.  We get out of the way, fast!"

     

    Join us at Bookflurries-Bookchat on Wednesday nights 8:00 PM EST

    by cfk on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 07:23:29 PM PST

  •  A writer I really respect (8+ / 0-)

    once told me that she thought novels should begin just before everything changes, and I tend to agree.

    It was a sunny and nice day...and then everything died/changed/got swamped by a storm/whatever.

    To make the argument that the media has a left- or right-wing, or a liberal or a conservative bias, is like asking if the problem with Al-Qaeda is do they use too much oil in their hummus. Al Franken

    by Youffraita on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 07:32:09 PM PST

  •  A mostly humorous attempt at one of these (NSFW) (5+ / 0-)

    Very few things bothered Melissa Goodheart, but the task of feeding hens always struck her as one of those anachronistic tasks forced on her by a husband who was either cheap or just stupid.

    Sure, other farms nearby have auto feeders and even weight monitors for the hens.   The Goodheart family had none of those things.   It wasn't as though her husband was broke and couldn't afford these things, it's that he was always running around with urgent and pressing errands at hand.

    In the fourteen years she had been married to Bill, she had been loyal, faithful and for the most part nice to old Bill.   That's not to say that she didn't find her life went exactly the same way she wanted; when they were high schoolers Bill was filled with vim and vigor and lusted and chased after her often.  It was rewarding.  She always felt as though she was the most desirable woman in the world to him.

    Something happened around 2007, though.   It was easy to blame the digital cable and the arrival of broadband internet.   Seven years into their marriage, all of the sudden Bill was talking about, and expressing interest in what she could only think of as "weird shit".  The beautiful lovemaking of their youth had turned into strange at at times acrobatic attempts that were both unrewarding and more than once left her with terrible neck and back pains - and when you have to get up and feed chickens every damn day because your husband can't be bothered with putting in an auto-feeder, that's the kind of thing that eventually pisses you off.

    Farmlife was fine, with Bill gone all day she managed to sleep quite often, read a few books, and care for the damn chickens.  If Bill didn't like it, there was a microwave and a pack of frozen burritos in the freezer, and if he couldn't figure out how to push "add thirty seconds" that was his own damn fault.

    As long as he came home at night and brought stuff with him, all was fine.    He may drink but he normally made his way home.  If he was drunk, no one travelled the dirt roads and he could mostly drive off into a field and just sit their all night.

    "Look, it's just one of those nights", she said outloud to absolutely no one as she was the only person in the car. "The worst thing about this is you know he's pissed his pants and I'm going to have to drive home listening to him complain about how if he was the general manager of the St. Louis Rams... oh lord, what the fuck am I doing talking outloud!"

    It always went that way, even when she was young.  When she was really pissed off, she couldn't help arguing outloud with absolutely nothing but the air.   "Wednesday night.. Jesus Christ."   Wednesday night was a good night for her, because while her sex life with her husband had been in a downward spiral for the last few years.. since that fucking internet.. her sex life with Mr. Harmon on NCIS was heating up every Wednesday.  All she needed was an outlet, a Hitachi Magic Wand, and her husband out watching ESPN or playing games or watching porn, as long as it was in another room.   Because absolutely nothing would give her a bad case of blue-tubes like her husband walking in while the NCIS team was racing into action.  

    So, instead of her Wednesday night margarita a warm blanket and her TV, her she was picking up this asshole in a bar because he got into some sort of trouble.

    The bar, a small dive that served as a combination bar, restaurant and gas station - the only one in their little town - had the usual Wednesday night crowd.   Fat, overweight losers who traded stories about how they blew out a knee in an 8 man football game that was going to make them the next Eric Dickerson, all despite the fact that they were 5'9, 249 and looked far closer to the Michellin Man than an NFL Star.

    Agnes Adellpate, the local bartender was one of those girls who had kids while she was in high school and, as a result, was basically branded the town whore.   She may not have been with more than one guy, but she definitely wasn't married when those bastards came popping out and she dropped out of school.   Something made Melissa feel pretty good everytime she saw Agnes because while she lived in quite desperation at home, at least she wasn't Agnes.

    Tonight, though, Agnes was the one casting strange looks her way and snickering.   Yes, her husband was drunk.   Big deal, at least she had a husband.   Agnes couldn't say that with her bastard children.

    She enlisted Jerry, the local mechanic to help load him into the F150 and get his ass home.   The moment they picked him up, though, she started to hear sounds behind her.   It sounded... strangely familiar.

    "Help me life him, what are you doing, we just have to get him out side.."

    "Oh yes.. oh yes.. fuck me.. this is really stupid do I have to keep saying this?  It's it obvious?  How long is this going to take?"

    She heard it in the background and it just didn't register.  It didn't sound like porn, and what were they doing watching porn at a bar?

    "Look, I'm getting a leg cramp, if this isn't helping can you just go masturbate in a few minutes, and that way I won't miss Dancing with the Stars."

    Oh.. Shit.

    They had talked about taping their love making before, but his elaborate and stupid scripts were both stupid and demeaning.  And why would he ever keep any of them?  And what the fuck was that bitch Agnes doing showing them on the TV in the bar?

    She had never thought of leaving her husband before, but this came pretty close.   The problem is, he had nothing and a divorce would leave her with half of nothing.  Stupid fucking internet, she thought.   Stupid fucking internet.   But at least it's not that bad, I look decent in that shot and we're married.   I'm going to hold my head up high.

    "Agnes, get me an order of wings and help me load this deadbeat up.   No, it's not my best work.   But look at that drunk SOB and look at the guys on Dancing with the Stars.   Case closed."

    Sure, maybe the bar would be laughing about it tomorrow.   Who gave a shit, really.   The only time she had to deal with Agnes was when her husband was drunk or stranded.   And after seeing his skill live and in person, she knew one thing for sure: she would never fear another woman taking this lout of her hands.

    Gandhi's Seven Sins: Wealth without work; Pleasure without conscience; Knowledge without character; Commerce without morality; Science without humanity; Worship without sacrifice; Politics without principle

    by Chris Reeves on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 08:11:24 PM PST

  •  Is This Change Enough? (4+ / 0-)

    Cock and Bull Story - No. 4

    Once there was a farm, a cock and a bull. The cock found the bull in the corn-field one day. He was in very agitated mood, snorting ferociously and pawing the ground.

    "What is the matter, bull?" asked the cock, who seemed more than a little concerned.

    "Red!" said the bull emphatically.

    "Red?" echoed the cock with an inflection of voice that indicated he was asking a question.

    The bull snorted again then thought before finally speaking, "It's the color red. When I see red I act like any good bull. I get angry."

    The cock laughed, "Don't you know? That's a myth. I read all about it in "Animal Psychology Nowadays." This month's issue."

    "Well then, I wouldn't know that, would I," said the bull, "I let my subscription lapse last year."

    ...

    best,

    john

    Strange that a harp of thousand strings should keep in tune so long

    by jabney on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 08:30:33 PM PST

  •  A little late to the party, but let me try this: (1+ / 0-)

    After the remarkable turn of events at Tunbridge Wells the day before, Goodwife Thankful Goodheart was amusing herself by watching her chickens work out their pecking order as they scrambled for the feed she was tossing among them with a certain amount of deliberation. Amidst the squawking, scrambling, and scurrying, her observations were suddenly interrupted when she became aware she was not alone with her flock. She looked up in time to see Agnes Addlepate giving her a most unnerving glare from the lane.

    "Good morning to you, Dame Addlepate" she said with a nod. "I didn't hear you approach. What brings you to my domains this fine day?"

    Addlepate gave a twisted smile, and for a moment Goodheart felt as though someone was running icy fingers across her soul.  

    "Oh nothing in particular my dear. Just getting out and about, you know, keeping an eye on things. Such a fine flock of fowl you have; I'm sure they keep you in eggs and such."

    Afterwards, Goodheart was never quite sure what did it, but in that moment something happened that would forever change her life in the village from that point on.

    "Oh yes, they are fine birds aren't they? You know it's funny. I make sure they all have enough food, a safe roosting place, good water, and nesting boxes. They have all they need - and more, but it's still not enough for some of them. Why would you believe that black Cornish there? She never seems to get enough but that she'll peck others out of the way for the last bit of grain. And that off-colored Orpington over there? She's forever squawking when any bird tries to roost on what she thinks is her perch - and that changes every day."

    Addlepate blinked in an uncertain fashion. This conversation was not going at all how she had expected.

    Goodheart continued. "You know, for all their strutting and cackling, it's a fine balance between egg laying and toughness that determines who ends up in the pot. I wonder what would happen if they could vote on who would get that  honor.... Agnes."

    Addlepate's smile slipped a bit as she unconsciously leaned back a little. "Um, a fascinating notion I am sure. Well, I shan't keep you from your flock. Just thought I'd say a word or two as I was passing by. A good day to you, I'm sure."

    "And a good day to you too" Goodheart called to her as she hurried away down the lane. She had never allowed herself to notice before what a pleasure it was to see Agnes departing. She wondered what other new pleasures might lie in store.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 09:15:14 PM PST

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